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2006 Tour De Sol Entrants Averaged 66 MPG

15 May 2006

The 2006 Tour de Sol—the 18th of the annual green car event organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)—featured three separate competitions with entrants using energy-efficiency techniques and less carbon-intensive fuels to demonstrate an average of 66 mpg, 140% above the current CAFE standard.

Top honors went to Wayne Gerdes of Illinois; West Philadelphia High School of Philadelphia, PA; Greasecar Vegetable Fuel System, of Easthampton, MA; Burlington County Electecs of Lawrenceville, NJ; and Optibike of Bolder, CO.

For auto enthusiasts and environmentalists these are tremendously exciting results. This demonstrates what is possible today and that we can do even better in the near future. We must work together and continue to develop vehicles that aim to cut oil use and climate change emissions to zero.

—Nancy Hazard, NESEA

Competitions at the Tour de Sol included:

  • Monte Carlo-style Rally and High-Mileage Challenge.

  • Tour de Sol Championship to challenge students, independent teams, and auto manufacturers to build one-of-a-kind or production vehicles that aim to reduce gasoline use and work toward zero climate change emissions.

  • Around-Town Vehicle Competition challenges students and others to build electric bikes and neighborhood vehicles as well as off-road vehicles, and demonstrate their vision of auto-free communities in a one or two-day event.

Monte Carlo Rally. In the Monte Carlo style Rally, Gerdes drove a stock Insight from Chicago on a single tank of gas achieving 90.4 mpg and captured the grand prize of the Monte Carlo-style fuel efficiency Championship. Two other independent teams, Jack Lee from Venice, FL and Willy Williford from Campo, CA, had added turbochargers to their Honda Insights, which have a 57 mpg EPA rating. Jack Lee’s vehicle demonstrated fuel economy of more than 76 mpg.

Mike Dabrowski of North Grosvenordale, CT, modified his Insight to support plug-in charging and added a 5th wheel powered by an electric motor for faster electric startup. This vehicle achieved an overall performance of 82.49 mpg and took 3 awards, including the top “Plug-In Hybrid” Award.

In the alternative fuel division of the Monte Carlo-style Rally, Homeland Energy Resources Development drove a Honda GX that runs on compressed natural gas. Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems entered an Austin Mini Clubman converted with their kit to run on 100% vegetable oil. Eastern Biofuels, the largest biodiesel supplier in the Northeast, refueled the biodiesel-powered vehicles.

The Gavin Watson team received a cash prize from the National Biodiesel Board for taking first place in this division with a 1973 Porsche 914 powered by 100% soybean oil that got 53 mpg and reduced climate change emissions by 87% compared to a conventional 27-mpg vehicle.

Tour de Sol Championship. The West Philadelphia High School team took top honors in the student Hybrid and Alternative fuel division with a purpose-built sports car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds and achieves fuel economy of 55 mpg.

The Greasecar Mad Mini team carried the day in the independent division with Mini Cooper Clubman with Greasecar Vegetable Fuel System kit installed so that it could run on 100% vegetable oil.

In the battery-electric division, EVermont, from Waterbury, VT demonstrated fuel efficiency in electric vehicles with more than 160 MPGe, while the Burlington Electecs of Lawrenceville, NJ took top honors with a student-built electric vehicle.

In the Solar-Assisted electric division, the West Irondequoit took top honors in the one-person category, and St. Mark’s School, Southborough, MA, took top honors in the two-person category. St. Mark’s and the North Haven Community School from North Haven, ME tied for the “Renewablity Prize,” demonstrating zero climate change emissions. St. Marks purchased green electricity from their local utility to run their car, while North Haven added solar panels to their school to generate electricity to run their car.

Around Town Vehicle Competition. This grew to eleven entries this year. This competition challenges entrants to design motorized vehicles that could replace the conventional car in our communities with zero carbon emission vehicles.

In the production division, Optibike, of Bolder, CO, demonstrated a range of 104 miles in less than four hours on its electric bicycle, the Optibike 400, which uses lithium batteries. In the independent and student divisions there were four entries using lithium batteries and two using lead-acid batteries.

In the neighborhood electric vehicle division, three GEMs entered—one from the Southern Berkshire Regional School, Sheffield, MA and two from the Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, NY. All of the vehicles drove more than 20 miles with conventional lead acid batteries and received a cash prize from the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium for their achievements.

Premier sponsors of the 2006 Tour de Sol were the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Center for Technology Commercialization. Additional key sponsors included the New York Power Authority, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, Stewart’s Shops, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Eastern Biofuels, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Toyota, the UK Trade & Investment, Honda, Kurkoski Solar Electric, Westboro Toyota, the US Environmental Protection Agency, E-The Environmental Magazine, EIN Publishing, and


May 15, 2006 in Biodiesel, Conferences and other events, Electric (Battery), Fuel Efficiency, Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)


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I liked the idea of putting solar panels on the body of vehicle. It can recharge 12 V battery and power some of devices inside vehicle such as music players, lights or maybe AC. Good for getting a mile or two more in mileage.

I think there is great potential in Mike Dabroski's fifth wheel idea even though he did not place first because the concept could be applied to vehicles in order to maintain their speed while turning off the main motor. The power required would be just enough to overcome air and tire resistance. This might lead to more aerodynamic design of vehicles. I think the fifth wheel could be retractable and that an electric motor might be considered for the power break system for the four regular wheels. The fifth wheel would act like a cruise control with the engine turned on only when power was needed for increasing the speed of the vehicle.

If this concept could be applied, then very small electric or gas motors and tire combination could be used to maintain speed. It might be a good concept to apply for long distance driving.

"Gerdes drove a stock Insight from Chicago on a single tank of gas achieving 90.4 mpg."

Is there a typo here? Can a stock Insight achieve this mileage performance on normal roads with regular gas?

In the 50's there were contests for teens to see who could get the best gas mileage by using the best driving techniques. Driving like you had an egg between your foot and the accelerator was the way one person described it.

More mainstream media attention to this type of rally would spread the potential of improved mileage from stock and new technology cars to those who aren't plugged into gcc.

What? No TDIs? :)

Is there a typo here? Can a stock Insight achieve this mileage performance on normal roads with regular gas?

Ed, here's Wayne's mileage log.

He's part of the "hypermiler" team that pushed a Prius to get over 110 mpg.

The West Philly High School car is a TDI/Electric hybred.

Wayne also has a detailed log of this particular trip on the messageboard he co-sponsors:

90 MPG is only average for Wayne. He must have been in a rush, + cool weather, + unfamiliar roads. He does use every extreme hypermileage technique know to man. My year round average of about 72 MPG (in an Insight) doesn't even deserve honourable mention in the hypermiler chronicals, but in summer driving, on trips over 40 miles, I often see mid to high 80s in US MPG!

Yes, it's not a typo.:D

Expert driver knowing his wehicle operation to the smallest detail could get 30% MPG quite easily.

I use real time air/fuel meter (just oxygen sensor signal interseptor) and tachometer to watch closely when injection is switches off, shifting points, WOT enrichment, etc. I got 10-15% improved MPG city/hilly highway immediately (on plain highway the difference is less then 5% - no miracles there), and my fuel efficiency is better then EPA estimate (again, if I do not speeding on highway and do not harry in city). I drive 15 years old NX with SR20 engine and AT.

90 MPG is only average for Wayne. He must have been in a rush, + cool weather, + unfamiliar roads. He does use every extreme hypermileage technique know to man. My year round average of about 72 MPG (in an Insight) doesn't even deserve honourable mention in the hypermiler chronicals, but in summer driving, on trips over 40 miles, I often see mid to high 80s in US MPG!

Yes, it's not a typo.:D

The West Philly High team needs more exposure. A company like BMW, Lotus, Porsche, Jaguar, or VW needs to team up with them to push their design to be more efficient, crash safe, better performance. Perhaps an invitation to a major auto show next year as concept cars.

May12th,2007 --7:30pm NY time
My website -- --

As shown in my web pages electric vehicles will play a major role in
future global transportation. Not until all countries agree on
standardizing the battery size and voltage for quick ( one minute)
swap battery recharging stations owned by GE or Exide, Hybrid
Technologies and the like will the public make the big switch
and even then as time moves on they to will then again require
modifications to adapt to an even more advanced dual mode maglev
riding elevated high speed pipeline guideways. In my website above
add -- /electriCar.html -- for typical swap stations
(I can design them) also my Maglev system -- /dualmodemaglev.html --
presented to US DOT in the 1960s which many are now trying to claim
the ideas. I hope I can be of help to all and good wishes to all of you. Jack Marchand

P.S. It is of importance for all car and battery manufacturers to
agree and participate to make the EV battery swap stations infrastructure succeed.

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